Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats

Chapter Six


THE Chinese are a nation of individualists. They are family-
minded, not social-minded, and the family mind is only a
form of magnified selfishness. It is curious that the word
"society'5 does not exist as an idea in Chinese thought. In the
Confucian social and political philosophy we see a direct
transition from the family, chia, to the state, kuo, as successive
stages of human organization, as in such sayings as "When the
family is orderly, then the state is peaceful,55 or "Put the family
in order and rule the state in peace.55 The nearest equivalent
to the notion of society is, then, a compound of the two words,
kuochia, or "state-family,55 in accordance with the rule for
forming Chinese abstract terms.

"Public spirit55 is a new term, so is "civic consciousness,55 and
so is "social service.55 There are no such commodities in China.
To be sure, there are "social affairs,55 such as weddings, funerals,
and birthday celebrations and Buddhistic processions and
annual festivals. But the things which make up English and
American social life, viz., sport, politics and religion, are con-
spicuously absent. There is no church and no church com-
munity. The Chinese religiously abstain from talking politics;
they do not cast votes, and they have no club-house debates on
politics. They do not indulge in sport, which binds human
beings together, and which is the essence of the English and
American social life. They play games, to be sure, but these
games are characteristic of Chinese individualism. Chinese
games do not divide the players into two parties, as in cricket
with one team playing against the other. Team work ii
unknown. In Chinese card games, each man plays for himself
The Chinese like poker, and do not like bridge. They have